Wednesday August 5, 2015 11:00 AM
When school starts in just one week, Pointview Elementary School will have a new staff lounge and a temporary construction wall while finishing touches are made to the new front office that will be completed in mid-September.
The first phase of the Pointview expansion/renovation project involved renovating the old art room, which actually used to be a locker room with showers, into a staff lounge.
“It will be an inspirational space for teachers to reflect on their break,” Pointview Principal Sherry Birchem said.
The space will be occupiable in time for the start of the school year, but the new kitchenette will be completed a few weeks after the Aug. 13 start of school.
By mid-September, two kindergarten classrooms will be converted into office spaces at the main entrance.
“This will make our building more safe, provide more conducive spaces and now our guidance office will no longer be down the hall,” Birchem said.
The old office space across the hall will become part of the new cafeteria, which will be part of phases three and four — the new addition and classroom renovations — that will be completed in time for the first day of school in 2016.
Built in 1973, Pointview is the district’s only remaining school with an open-concept classroom environment. Annehurst, Mark Twain and Robert Frost elementary schools, built with the same kind of design, have been converted to more traditional classroom layouts.
The Altman Co. is doing the renovations plus an addition in four phases. The total cost of $4.3 million was approved by the school board at a special meeting June 19.
The bathrooms in Pointview also will be remodeled in time for the start of school.
In student focus groups held in the spring, Jeff LeRose, the district’s executive director of facilities and operations, heard from students that they disliked the low bathroom-stall doors.
The bathroom remodeling wasn’t originally on LeRose’s to-do list. But he and his team listened to student feedback and now they are installing higher partitions in the bathrooms, painting the partitions red, and installing new cabinets, countertops and sinks.
During the school year, construction will continue. A model lighthouse will be inside Pointview’s new media center, which will be called the Exploration Station.
The purpose of a typical lighthouse is to guide ships along their journey. Feeling inspired by this symbolism and the nearby city water tower in Huber Village Park, LeRose’s team wanted to incorporate the metaphor of a lighthouse into the Pointview design.
Birchem said she is asking people to be patient during this year of construction.
“I hope people realize we’re doing our best. My priority will always be the student’s academic and safety needs,” she said.
When LeRose visited Pointview, teachers expressed a desire to develop lesson plans around the construction.
“Teachers could give students math problems allowing them to find the perimeter or area of a real classroom in the new addition. They could work off real-world drawings and figures to solve problems,” LeRose said.
Students also might have an opportunity to participate in construction meetings.
“We want to have a student leadership team that can participate in meetings with the contractors and then report back to their classroom,” Birchem said. “It would be neat to expose our students to the process of how a building is built and for them to learn about potential career opportunities.”
If safely possible, LeRose and Birchem would prefer small peepholes in the construction walls so students could see the progress.
“We will continue to figure out what students want and see what our teachers feel they are able to take on,” Birchem said.
Most of the construction will be done after school hours or on the weekends, but Birchem said it still would be a challenge for teachers.
“Our staff is excited for next year but as with any challenge, this will bring us closer together because we will have to rely on each other.”
Earlier this week, LeRose said initial construction is on pace and the building would be ready as planned for students returning to school next week.
“Everything is going well to date,” LeRose said Aug. 4. “I am meeting with Altman this afternoon to review construction progress against the schedule.”